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UPDATE -NDC Dahlia Cuttings 62.5% success rate

You may remember back in June how excited I was when my 24 new Dahlia Cuttings arrived from the National Dahlia Collection (NDC) in Penzance, UK:

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I was reluctant ast first to buy more Dahlia cuttings from NDC as back in 2015 I had problems with a number of cuttings from NDC (see previous blog post). I was hesitant to buy from them again, but last year I gave in and placed another order, as I struggled to find other alternative suppliers in the UK with as much variety.

So this year, I was really vigilant and made sure I gave the Dahlias the best possible start and regularly fertilised and watered throughout the growing season. However I only had a 62.5% success rate with 15/24 growing correctly. The problems I had are as follows:

Wrong dahlia cutting sent (x4):  Picture on the left is what it should look like, picture on the right is what I was actually sent.

  • Tartan – no white stripes, this actually looks more like a ‘Thomas Eddison Dahlia’

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  • Karma Fusciana – single dahlia instead

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  • Oakwood Naranga – right colour, completely different shape

Oakwood-naranga X comparison 2016.jpg

  • Dr John Grainger – right colour, completely different shape

Dr John Grainger.jpg

Diseased Dahlia’s x2 – i.e. didn’t flower and Crown/Leaf Gall found when tuber dug up: 

  • Black Narcissus
  • Clara May

Crown Gall is a bacterial disease that causes large abnormal growths at the base of the infected plant or the top of one or more tubers as shown in the picture below. The plants are stunted and the shoots spindly. Since there is no effective treatment, infected plants and tubers should be destroyed. I think the source of the bacteria is unlikely to reside in my garden as the area the dahlias are being grown is was turfed up until 18 months ago ago when we moved in. Turfing is one of the recommended ways of getting rid of the bacteria if its a problem where you live, so I am doubtful it was already in my garden. It is also VERY common in Dahlias, so I can only suspect the Mother stock was infected and passed to the cuttings. Though you can never be sure with bacteria and virus diseases.

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Dahlia’s which didn’t grow x3  – i.e. cutting wilted and died, no tuber: 

  • Wooton Phoebe
  • Pearsons Ben
  • Lupin Dixie

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15x Dahlias that grew well

The remaining 15 Dahlias grew well as you can see from the catalogue photo (top) versus the photo I took (Bottom). The red dahlias in particular did very well.

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dahlia-progress-2016b

I’m not convinced the Dahlia ‘Promise’ has the same leaf shape, but at least it grew well and was the same colour. Tohsuikyou, flowered well, however the flower heads were too heavy for the stems and consequently the flowers were often drooped over.

dahlia-progress-2016a

Nuit de ete didn’t grow well, it only flowered once briefly, so I’m hoping it comes back next year and performs better. Je-Maintendrai was a huge dinner plate dahlia, gorgeous but difficult to stake. Zurichlooked nothing like i expected and never did develop the deep orange colour shown on the NDC website. Rossendale Luke and Barbarry dominion were both stunning.

In summary I had a 62.5% success rate. I have read that its normal to lose some dahlias each year, but it’s difficult to know what percentage is normal. I had similar problems in previous years with both Taylors Bulbs and the National Dahlia collection (NDC) sending different coloured dahlias to the ones intended. I have contacted the NDC and they have agreed to investigate and replace the 4 dahlias which were the wrong colour.

In the meantime I have placed a new Dahlia order with ‘Eurodahlia’ and I will report back next year 🙂

Dahlias are worth growing though – when they are in full bloom – like my garden here – they look magnificent:

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Garden Hand Tools product review Part 1: Hand Hoe’s

As promised in my last post: https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/my-gardening-hand-tools/ here I am going to review the garden hand Hoe’s.

Since moving into my house less than a year ago I have bought 3 Hand Hoe’s as follows:

  1. Faithfull Faichhoe Cultivator (May 2015)
  2. Wolf Garten Double Hoe (Jul 2015)
  3. Bahco Garden Hoe (Sep 2015)

Part 1c

All of these Hoes/cultivators cost less than £10. These all have a sharp edge which is great for cutting through tough soil which hasn’t been touched for years. For instance if your turning soil up in a confined area near a tree or fence, where you are unable to use a large garden folk or spade, then these little hand Hoe’s are invaluable.

  1. Faithfull Faichhoe Cultivator (May 2015)

Faithfull Faichhoe Cultivator

The Faithfull Faichhoe Cultivator was the first item of this type I purchased and I loved using this tool as it made breaking up the hard soil so much easier than trying to use a hand trowel. However, I think the hard stone ridden soil was too much for the Faithfull tool and it subsequently bent and distorted and I binned it after a few months as it was no longer very effective. Sorry I never took a picture before binning it!

2. Wolf Garten Double Hoe (Jul 2015)

315921_WolfGarten Double Hoe

The Wolf Garten Double Hoe was the second tool of this type I purchased.Again it performed excellent when I first purchased the tool, but again after a few months use it has bent out of shape, rusted and the sharp edge is pretty blunt and warped after hitting one too many stones and bramble roots. I think this tool would perform great on previously prepared garden beds, but they have struggled to withstand the test of time on my old neglected garden. They have aided me immensely in digging up Bramble roots though and would recommend these types of tools to other gardeners or allotment gardeners …however I don’t think the wolf garten is the strongest for tough plots. One big dislike is the ridged end of the hand…as a gardener I think this is a bad design as soil gets wedged into the handle grooves making it difficult to keep it clean.

3. Bahco Garden Hoe (Sep 2015)

Bahco Garden Hoe

The third and last tool of this type I bought was the Bahco, this is my first and only tool purchased from this French company. I had never heard of the company, but bought the tool as it looked tough and I thought it might perform better than the previous 2 Hoe’s. When it arrived my Husband told me Bahco was a famous power-tool manufacturer, so that was reassuring and I had high hopes for this tool. Unlike the previous 2 tools I have reviewed, this was only a single hoe, however the steel/metal does feel thicker and sturdier and less likely to bend.So far the tool has performed well. The edge isn’t has sharp as it was, again it has been used on my tough garden. however it has shown no signs of bending or rusting so I am pleased with this product and would buy other Bahco products again. I have seen some other interesting Hoe designs they do and would be interested in trying these out.

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Look out for my next review on hand tools – coming soon!

My gardening hand tools

I bought my new house with garden last May/June 2015 and bought a huge selection of tools from a range of famous gardening brands. I did some research and bought the larger items mainly from Bulldog and Chillington.  However I couldn’t really see a big difference between the hand tools so bought these from a range of companies. 1 year on I have binned a number of items which have been damaged or broke, accidentally put some in the green bin and then these are what I have left below, so I thought I would review the performance of these tools over the last year since I bought the house and garden.

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Hand tools

I should state that the garden hadn’t been touched for 20 years and different parts of the garden have different soil types, some parts are sandy, some are hard clay and others are normal. The area had previously been used to mine sand, so obviously the garden is very sandy and has a ridiculous number or pebbles everywhere, so everytime I dig I always hit a pebble or two! The garden also contained a lot of buried concrete and rubble! An annoying amount. In addition the garden was completely overtaken by brambles, I must of progressively dug up over 200 brambles root balls and filled a skip and made endless trips to the tip….so as you can imagine my hand tools have been put through a lot! They have either hit pebbles, concrete or thick tough bramble root balls! Hence some of the tools haven’t withstood the test of time. I have dug up bin fulls of pebbles and boulders that I have now decided to make a dry river in order to use them and make a feature out of them 😀

Over the next few weeks I will be doing an in depth reviews of the different gardening tools as follows, so watch this space:

1. Part 1 Hand Garden Hoes

2. Part 2 Hand Patio weeder/ scrapers

3. Part 3 Hand shrub rake

4. Part 4 Hand dibber & Widget

5.Part 5 Hand Fork and hand Trowels

6. Part 6: Hand Secateurs and hand Cutting tools

 

 

Starting dahlia tubers in Northern UK

I’ve just purchased 4 new dahlia tubers and wanted to start them off early (Bergers Record, Friquloet, Bora-Bora and Labyrinth). The general guidance is that dahlias shouldn’t be grown outdoors until all risk of frost has passed and/or the nighttime temperature doesn’t drop below 10’C. In the North of the UK, that’s usually towards the end of May or beginning of June.

In previous years I have started tubers off in doors in pots. However last year I moved to a new house and don’t really have anywhere to put them indoors, especially as my tuber collection has grown too large to start them all off in the house. So I bought a very small Lean-to greenhouse/ coldframe W76 x D46 x H110cm.

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So I have decided to experiment this year by planting the tubers in small pots with potting compost and perlite lightly watered and I have placed these in the greenhouse in early April….fingers crossed they will do ok outdoors as I have no idea what temperature the Greenhouse is during the day and night. I should probably insulate it with bubble wrap. let me know if you have any tips or advice.

I plan to leave the tubers in these small pots for as long as possible just to give the tubers enough time to sprout and produce shoots..then I will plant these out into a patch of garden I have already prepared for them.

 

Whitefriars 9566 stem bud vases

I have recently started collecting a new variety of stem bud vases which I love. They were made by the British company Whitefriars between 196o and 1980 I believe, until the company closed in 1980. I love their uniformity and classic elegance, I think they look modern despite their age, and I just love the fact they’re British as most of my other stem bud vases are most probably made in Europe. The pattern number of this vase is 9566 and so far I believe it comes in 10 colour as follows (message me if you know of more!):

  1. Artic Blue
  2. Ocean Green
  3. Twilight
  4. Flint (clear)
  5. Silver
  6. Aqua
  7. Gold or Amber
  8. Tangerine
  9. Kingfisher blue/dark blue
  10. Sky Blue

I think I have found the first 8 of these colours though it’s hard to tell if my 3 orange ones are different? i.e. I think 2 are Tangerine and 2 are gold? My aqua one had a bad chip. And I haven’t found the last 2 colours yet. I’ve also heard rumours of 2 other colours on glass forums, but seen no evidence to suggest these additional colours were ever produced before the factory closed in 1980.

Growing stem / bud bubble vase collection

My stem/bud bubble vase collection has been growing recently. I only collect clear stem vases apart from one particular design which is a teardrop design. I find it fascinating how many shapes and sizes and colour variations the vases come in. As you call tell, I’m trying to collect all colours. Purples seem to be the rarest colour.

I moved house earlier this year, I don’t have anywhere to put them yet, so thought I would pull them out of their moving boxes and see how many I have. Next year I will hopefully design some shelfs especially for the vases.

17 Apr 2014 – New tubers – Purple Gem (Cactus) & Natal Red (Pompom)

My excitement at waiting for the 7 new Dahlia cuttings I ordered in November was too much, so I impulsed bought 2 new tubers whilst I was waiting for the cuttings to arrive. I bought:

1 x Purple gem (Cactus) Dahlia from ebay.co.uk

1 x Natal Red (Pompom) Dahlia from Wilkinsons online.

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The tuber for the Purple Gem Dahlia from ebay was in very good condition but huge and looked to have at least 7 eyes, so I decided to split it right down the central stem using a sharp knife and then I put the 2 large tubers in separate 8 inch pots indoors. After a few days the eyes on both tubers seem to be developing and I hoping in a week or so they develop some shoots.

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The Dahlia Natal Red (Pompom) tuber was only £1 from Wilkinsons and again was quite large with a lot of tubers. However a lot of the tuber stems were damaged and broken. Also their website photo was quite different to the photo on the actual packet. Their website showed hints of blue which made me intrigued as I’d read that Dahlias grow in every colour except blue! It looks like one of their marketing/sales or web developers has become a little giddy on photoshop!

ImageDahlia Natal g

Anyway, I planted the tuber whole in 1 pot 2 days ago and it looks to have 9-10 eyes, however none of them have changed since I potted the tuber. So I am going to wait and see what happens because as I mentioned a lot of the tubers stems were damaged.

ImageDahlia Natal b2Dahlia Natal c2

So now I just have to wait and stop myself from buying anymore tubers or cuttings as my back yard is tiny! Its about the size of a single bedroom.